Sounds From The Outer Reaches #1


An assemblage of sounds which assault, mutilate, confound, beguile and defy. No limits of control, no parameters to excess, no door policy. Reservation, conservatism and inhibition are dirty words here. Think of this as equivalent to a pitiful, chaotic, inner-city yard huddled in a small corner of the internet. Every week it’ll be further ransacked by a filtered litter of whatever I come across; the best sounds emanating from the outer reaches.

Kevin Drumm – Trouble 

Kevin Drumm has been churning out productions which blend noise, drone and ambient at a rate almost too incessant for listeners to give each release the intensive airing they warrant. With this excerpt from his latest forthcoming release on Editions Mego, the need for minute attention to his sound continues. But that doesn’t detract from the immediate draw of its tone and atmosphere. Described in promotional material as his ‘quietest record yet’, Drumm seems to have ploughed unprecedented furrows of sound, very much rooted in deep quiet, and at certain points even on the verge of imperceptible silence.

In an archive interview (printed here) Drumm refers to ‘this other sound sphere’ when mentioning his technique for tabletop guitar, but that reference could easily be applied to this preview from ‘Trouble’. It shadily reveals the faintest of droning stirs and establishes an eerily stagnant mood, but withholds a special stillness which feels like you’re the only one who’s alive to its enshrouded creaks and croaks. 

Dirty Beaches – Displaced

Since ‘Drifters/Love is The Devil’, many (including yours truly) have had to reassess Alex Zhang Hungtai. With ‘Badlands’ he shot to ascendancy with yearning croons and wails lifted from the ghosts of rockabilly hall of fame rejects. Caked in distortion and fuzz, the sound resembled a series of worn-out, dust-spattered 45s. It seemed contrived and modish, but it may have only appeared that way for the ‘Lynchian’ bandwagon subsequently fashioned by overzealous journalists in the wake of the record’s momentum and other records spuriously associated. Its purity of intent went largely unacknowledged (Hungtai has stated it was intended as something his father could listen to).

A canny use of Les Rallizes Denudes and Francoise Hardy samples and an unhindered style when moving within more extreme levels of noise pointed to something greater. Cue the second full length; half-skulking, red-light-district, deviant nocturnes and half-tormented, ambient-solitude. ‘Displaced’, the first preview of ‘Stateless’ and one of its four purely instrumental tracks, fits more appropriately in the latter camp. But the wracked and choppy brass exhalations make for an altogether more skittish anguish than the ‘Love is The Devil’ side of his last record, as well as something altogether more cinematic (which makes sense, considering the recent ‘Water Park’ OST and other film commissions he’s worked on) Whilst working in film, Hungtai – as confessed in interviews – has continued to contend with personal issues surrounding displacement, as reflected by constant moves across various cities over the years (Poetic, ideological admissions have surfaced too) With ‘Displaced’ it sounds like he’s continuing to excel at channeling how such estrangement feels. 

Prostitutes – Nouveauree

Out of meticulously designed, subtly composed rumblings and rock-bottom, frayed, ambience, into the (techno) fire. The first glimpse of James Donadio’s latest arrives, caning every skull in sight with pounding cycles from the blistering core of some traumatizing hardcore enclave.
It doesn’t seem a drastic departure to what’s surfaced throughout recent releases on Digitalis, Diagonal, and Spectrum Spools but considering that Donadio’s singular form of techno is already a gloriously broken machine, there’s no use in clamouring for a fix. ‘Hate’s in the City’ doles out a fair beating, breeding its violence with cataclysmic sparks of hissing noise and elaborate, interweaved percussive phrases cumulatively assembled over an unerringly heavy six minutes. Haywire bastard-battery of the highest order. 

Tashi Dorji – Improvisation I

After impressing Ben Chasny (aka Six Organs of Admittance) and adding the latest instalment to the increasingly prestigious Blue Tapes series, Bhutanese guitarist Tashi Dorji inaugurates Chasny’s new label Hermit Hut with a self-titled EP. There are many would-be songs within Dorji’s controlled chaos, roots which he initially teases out, but duly extinguishes, replacing the expected culmination of harmony with far more interesting detours; nimble plucks which form inconstant bodies of notes. The speed and force of the playing resembles a charge and a burst in one moment with a dizzying array of virtuosic layers, then he halts and lingers in the next, resting on the ripples of one lonely, resonant note. It feels like you’re in private council with Dorji’s impulse, getting lost in the stream of his meanderings whilst remaining aware of every rapid, infinitesimal shift. Probably best not to burden this with too many words, it makes me want to get tediously high-flown…

Vladislav Delay – Vihollinen

How to react when you’re denied access to America on the eve of a national tour? Sasu Ripatti of Moritz Von Oswald Trio, Luomo, Sistol and Vladislav Delay fame coped with the fallout by making an ambient album which clocks in at over 50 minutes. On first impressions it seems to continue where the more recent releases on Raster-Noton left off. ‘Vihollinen’ (which roughly translates to ‘The Enemy’…I think) is whitewashed with buzzy, hypnotic coats of subtly affective drone and aleatory, dripfeed-interjections of found sound and micro-percussion, a similar affair to what you’d find on recent Delay material. But three quarters of the way through the tone completely shifts, abruptly announced by a wood-like ‘pock’ sound which then births a spate of dense and unabating haze, like some pleasurable, engine-powered inferno of ambience. The structure seems to have become less maintained within each track, whereas before, one identifiable, slowly built upon phase would have been enough, now, on the basis of ‘Vihollinen’, there’s a freer, divergent feel to the work. In this instance it works to stunning effect. It seems sidelining under the Ripatti guise, producing Mirel Wagner’s second full length, and being forced out of America (and therefore being forced to cancel a US tour) is a recipe for the invigoration of the Vladislav Delay project. Oppressive visa bureaucracy apparently has a silver lining. 

Tim Wilson

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